June 10th, 2008
04:49 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama meets with religious leaders behind closed doors


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/03/art.obama.jpg caption=" Obama privately met with about 30 religious leaders in Chicago on Tuesday."]CHICAGO (CNN) - Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama held a private, closed-press meeting Tuesday with religious leaders, which included Evangelicals, Protestants and Catholics, according to campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

About 30 people are expected to attend, including some from Chicago, a campaign aide said. Members of the media were kept out and weren't informed of any details until about 45 minutes prior to the beginning of the meeting.

"Reaching out to the faith community is a priority for Barack Obama and will be a priority under an Obama Administration," Psaki said in an e-mailed statement when pressed for details by members of the traveling press corps. Previously, the only information provided to reporters was that Obama would hold a private gathering with "community leaders."

"This is one of several meetings he will have over the coming months with religious leaders," Psaki said.

The Illinois senator left the traveling press corps upon landing in Chicago after a morning of campaign events in St. Louis, Missouri. Staffers would not disclose the location of the meeting to the reporters who were still on board the plane waiting to depart.

The campaign said privacy was necessary because the meeting includes people who support Obama, as well as some who do not who wanted to remain unidentified.

They provided the names of three leaders in attendance, all of whom happen to be African-American:

Dr. T. Dewitt Smith, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; Dr. Stephen Thurston, pastor of the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago; and Bishop Philip Cousin of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who is pastor of the Philip R. Cousin AME Church in Naperville, Illinois.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Vote McCain '08

    Great job hOBO! talk about racial division and separation of Church and State, you take the cake for this one. I think everyone is beginning to see that your inexperience is catching up with you. You appear like a needle in a haystack, totally lost as to what to do next. Let's make this real simple. Vote for John McCain. Save America from self destruction.

    June 10, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. jimmy velman


    June 10, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. democrat in the white house

    McCain's going after Hillary's BITTER women voters, why can't Obama go after evangelicals where McSame happen to be weak, I think it's fair game, besides Hillary was getting most of these votes although for the life of me I did not know why!!

    June 10, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. skunkrat The Marine

    If this meeting is a secret, why did Obama's staff leak kit to the press?
    Is there a reason why he wants the public to know that he is having a SECRET meeting with a bunch of RELIGIOUS LEADERS. I support Obama, but this makes me wonder.

    June 10, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  5. Susan

    Completely agree with Vig. Obama, if president, will be historic but ineffectual.

    June 10, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. Mike

    Obama is more liberal in his views than many other Christians but, Obama is a Christian with a relationship with Jesus as Lord. McCain while endorsing some Christian views, is not a Christian. McCain does not claim to be a Christian, does not mention Christ. And refers to a prominant Theologian like John Hagee as crazy. I know most of you who read this blog could care less. But, as a Christian, I feel better knowing the President will recognize that there is a Higher Authority in this universe than the President of the United States and that he will be held morally responsible for his decisions.

    June 10, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. stephanie

    so much for a transparent washington. first a private closed door meeting with HRC and now this. He's a hypocrite and will not get my vote in the fall.

    June 10, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. True Democrat

    Post this:

    Don't want anyone to know you are still meeting with ol' buddy Wright and Pfleger huh?

    And behind closed doors. All this secrecy from a man who preaches transparency.

    What kind of change is this really? Constantly changing positions? A two faced Obama? Is that what our nation needs?

    June 10, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. beachgirl

    Was Rev. Wright with you again Sen. Obama? praying? Remember him? Wright was your mentor, you said it!! Remember???????

    June 10, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. Mike

    Obama is up to no good!!!!!

    June 10, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  11. Gene

    Aren't these the same people trying to sue him for using the name Joshua in his proposal? Sorry... I know he needs the support of religious leaders.. but they are so hypocritical and often backwards thinking. These are the same people who refuse to teach the theory of evolution... because physical evidence just doesn't compare to blind faith.

    June 10, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |

    I think this is great that faith is very important to him that he is reaching out to the leaders of many peoples. Obama will be a president for all the people, that's for sure!

    This is just another wise action of Obama!

    June 10, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  13. Gene

    I agree that there should be a separation of church and state. Unfortunately in this country.. anyone political figure who would dare step out and say that he's not religious would be demonized as a heathen. Unfortunately.. that's our wonderful country. If you don't believe in God.. you must be evil.. or at least that's the way they think in many 'conservative' parts of the country.

    June 10, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  14. Daniel from FL

    Yes we have separation of church and state, but these leaders represent a VERY large constituency of the country, and should not be ignored. Our leaders should respect that, and that's why Obama is going to be an awesome president.

    Obama/Webb 2008

    June 10, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. Travis, Spokane, WA

    I wonder if Rev. Wright was there?
    maybe William Aires?

    oh wait...those 2 are on the VP list

    June 10, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. tom

    i wonder if Father Pfleger was there after promising his boss he would stay out of politics. I'm sure they were all ultra liberal preachers who want to make sure their parishoners keep getting government handouts.

    June 10, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  17. mike

    In secret Wow. You don't think Wright, Farahkan or Pfleger was in there do you?

    June 10, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  18. Democrat AGAINST Obama

    My guess is that hes looking for another anti-white, anti-American church where Michelle can feel proud of the USA for the FIRST TIME IN HER LIFE!!!

    These people do not deserve to serve in the white house.

    They both disgust me.

    June 10, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  19. Herman in LA

    I sure would like to see the photos of most of these people who are posting on these blogs.

    It would bring a very interesting point to everyone answers.

    June 10, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  20. Charlotte

    I thought Obama was against back room closed meetings? Change you can believe in? The only change thus far is, who's doing it. I will write Hillary Clinton on my ballot in November.

    June 10, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  21. R. Grayson

    If he met with people from the south, would you complain that he is leaving out the people from the north?

    If he meets with military people would you complain that he is not meeting with civilians?

    Give it a rest! There's no reason for nastiness or criticism here.

    He's meeting with some guys this week. Next week he will meet with somebody else. I'm sure he will do his best to get around to your group.

    June 10, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  22. Joe

    keep religion out of my government

    June 10, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  23. s callahan

    Now, that is a good thing.....because frankly those of faith founded this nation and somewhere along the line we have put that aside. you can still maintain separation of church and state....having faith doesn't dimish that.....the Presidental role is not for the vain, but those truly seeking to do good for the people with the people to be a part of the process....and that means the believer and the unbeliever.....if I were in that role I'd seek spiritual wisdom as well...our country's destiny is at stake!

    June 10, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  24. Margie Crader

    Where Have All The Flowers Gone-www.fourtogo.blogspot.com
    A song from the 60's that evoked strong emotions during a long war at that time, "with gone to graveyards everyone" the ending stanza of that song spoke volumes to all the young soldiers losing their lives in Vietnam. Another endurance race war that was never won. Another country which was destroyed during that war. Another president with just an Agenda. Strangely during that time oil prices rose significantly causing gas to go to oh say $1.35 a gallon. Interest rates went through the roof (14-17%), and the economy was also in a recession.

    Does it all sound too familiar? If government does not recognize past mistakes, they are doomed to repeat them. And repeat them, America surely has. I have never lived in a time where America is less respected. A country that stood at the top of the world in terms of respect, power, reverence and technology is now spoken about harshly even from bloggers in foreign countries. Bloggers in the Middle East blog about how we are the terrorists, coming in and bombing their museums, destroying their buildings, architecture. It's painful to read, and more painful to understand the truth of it.

    But people in that 60's era had not had their teeth ground down as we do today. Today no revolt, no protest, not even gas line grumblings. All just march in their socially accepted lines.
    Posted by R&M at 3:35 AM 0 co

    June 10, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. PCS / North Carolina

    Vig June 10th, 2008 4:53 pm ET

    "This is my take on Obama: tries to be everything to every faction. My prediction: if this guy gets elected he will be one of the most ineffective leaders, following in Bush's steps."

    Yes, you want only your side to be heard, but not the other side. That is the biggest problem we face as a nation going to the reccession, and the quiagmire in Iraq. There are many people like you vig, who do not care about the other side / person / child. It is only about "me" and "us". We will not go forward as a country if we continue to think this way. That is why we need Obama, to unite the country, which is deeply divided.

    June 10, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
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